Great night of nonsense and fun

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Adam Salter as Watson. left, and Brian Kavanagh, Holmes. Photo Janelle McMenamin

Theatre / “Baskerville – a Sherlock Holmes Mystery” by Ken Ludwig. Directed by Rob De Vries. At Gungahlin Theatre until April 27. Reviewed by PHILLIP MACKENZIE.

IF variety is the spice of life, versatility must be the icing on the cake and in this case the Dramatic Productions current season of “Baskerville” has both in spades.

Ken Ludwig’s take on what was perhaps Conan Doyle’s most popular mystery gives audiences plenty of reasons to be pleased to have made their way to the Gungahlin Theatre to marvel at, and applaud, this production, under the direction of Rob De Fries.

The original story concerns the devices adopted by scheming baddies to wrest the estate of a recently-deceased lord-of-the-manor from the hands of the rightful and high-minded heir, accompanied by maidens in various states of romantic distress.

In this version, the cast consists of the inevitable Holmes/Watson duo, supported by three hardworking actors in a bewildering whirlpool of multiple roles. So numerous and swift are the various character changes that it would be invidious to identify any one of this trio of madcap performers (Nicholas Steain, Teresa Wojik and Michael Cooper) against any one of the many characters they portray.

Sufficient to say that each of these actors convincingly presents their roster of characters as clearly identifiable individuals – aided in their diversity by the variety of Emma Graham’s well-wrought costumes.

It could be said that Holmes (Brian Kavanagh) and Watson (Adam Salter) have an easy time of it, compared to the hectic life of their supporting players, but that does not detract from the fact that Holmes is suitably superior and Watson appropriately stuffy and loyal. The interplay between them is a joy to watch, with each giving full value to his character.

Andrew Kay has designed a deceptively simple set full of almost as many clever surprises as the cast provides. There are lashings of fog and gloom, a splendid gale for the actors to battle against on the bleak moors, and not a dull moment in this production: not a dropped cue; hardly a longueur between exits and re-entries in new disguises; not a missed sound or lighting cue (sound designed by James McPherson, lights by Craig Muller), nor a broken bone from any of the meticulously choreographed pratfalls and slapstick fights.

Even better, every member of this cast knows how to project their lines clearly without “benefit” of amplification. Well done. Just a great night of nonsense and fun for all.

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